Press release №2107
05.10.2018
A MEMORY OF THE 20th CENTURY PURGES

IN BRIEF

  • A majority (93%) are interested in the family history
  • Russians mainly find out about the family history from the stories told by relatives (72%)
  • 80% are aware of the purges
  • 47% of respondents aged 18-24 have never heard of the purges

Most of those whose relatives were victims of the purge got to know about political persecution from the stories told by their relatives.  

MOSCOW, October 5, 2018. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the data of a survey studying what Russians know about the history of their families and the relatives who were purged. The study was prepared in cooperation with the State Museum of GULAG’s History.

Most of Russians (93%) are interested in the family history, including every second (51%) who tried to find out more about the ancestors; a further 42% are fond of the family history but they do not make a detailed study. Respondents aged 25-34 and 35-44 (95% for each) show the highest levels of interest.

Russians find out about the family history most frequently from the stories told by the relatives (72%). A further 41% search for information in the open sources and online archives. Every third respondent (33%) tried to find relatives through social media.  And finally, 22% of respondents went to the state archives.

Russians are well aware of the political persecution in the 1920-1950s in the USSR (80%). At the same time, young respondents are least informed about the purges: half of those aged 18-24 (47%) have never heard of the Purge.

More than one-third (35%) say that they have victims of the purges in their families, including 14% of those who are well aware of their fate, 16% of those who know about their fate just in general, and 5% who do not know anything about the purged relatives. Every fifth (22%) is not aware if he/she has any relatives who were purged. Most of those whose relatives were purged got to know about it from the stories told by their relatives (91%); this share is 97% among residents of Moscow and St Petersburg. More than half of those who are aware of the relatives’ fate (58%) would like to know more about them. This share is higher among young respondents aged 18-24.  

The Museum of GULAG’s History emphasizes the importance of studying the family history; its Documentation Center helps people find the information about their relatives who were victims of the purges. The museum has various outreach programs related to the family history (workshops with school students, theatre performances, etc.). The Director Anastasia Patlay is preparing a special theatre performance as part of the Art Night event.

More details in PPT file.

The VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on September 14, 2018. The survey involved 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over. The survey was telephone-based and was carried out using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

 

Are you personally interested/not interested in your family history?  (closed-ended question, one answer % of total respondents)
  Total respondents Aged 18-24 Aged 25-34 Aged 35-44 Aged 45-59 Aged 60 and over
Very interested; I try to know more about the history of my ancestors 51 47 49 50 56 50
Generally interested but I do not make any detailed study 42 45 46 45 36 43
Likely not interested 5 8 5 5 6 5
Don’t know 2 0 0 0 2 2

 

Have you ever tried to search for information about your family, your ancestors in the following sources? (closed-ended question, one answer per each line, % of total respondents)
  I have tried I have not tried Don’t know
State archives 22 78 0
Open data sources/online archives 41 59 0
Talking to relatives, family friends about the family history 72 27 1
Searching for relatives through social media 33 67 0

 

Do you know/have you heard/is it the first time you hear that there was political persecution in the USSR in the 1920-1950s? (closed-ended question, one answer % of total respondents)
  2017 2018
Yes, I have heard 73 80
It is the first time I hear about it 27 19
Don’t know 0 1

 

Do you know/have you heard/is it the first time you hear that there was political persecution in the USSR in the 1920-1950s? (closed-ended question, one answer % of total respondents) 2018
  Total respondents  Aged  18-24 Aged  25-34 Aged  35-44 Aged  45-59 Aged  60 and more
Yes, I have heard 80 53 69 81 89 88
It is the first time I hear about it 19 47 30 17 11 12
Don’t know 1 0 1 2 0 0

 

Was any member of your family a victim of the purges (the dispossessed, the exiles, the forcibly resettled and wrongly convicted persons? If yes, what do you know about their fate? (closed-ended question, one answer % of total respondents)
  Total respondents Moscow and St.Petersburg Million cities More than 500 ths 100–500 ths Less than 100 ths Rural area
Yes, there were victims of the purges in my family; I am well aware of their fate 14 10 14 14 18 13 11
Yes, there were victims of the purges in my family; I know about their fate in general 16 22 17 14 16 14 13
Yes, there were victims of the purges in my family; but I know nothing about their fate 5 3 3 9 7 6 5
No there were no victims of the purges in my family 43 44 46 43 36 44 49
I do not know if someone was purged 22 21 20 20 22 23 22
Don’t know 0 0 0 0 1 0 0

 

From what sources did you find out if someone was purged in your family?   (closed-ended question, any number of answers, % of those who know they had relatives who were purged)
  % of those who know that there were victims of the purges in their families Moscow and St.Petersburg Million cities More than 500 ths 100–500 ths Less than 100 ths Rural area
Stories of friends, relatives 91 97 92 91 91 91 88
Historic archives 4 4 2 3 6 4 2
Internet, social media 3 2 4 6 3 2 3
Documents, mass media publications 2 1 2 2 1 3 1
Museum archives 1 1 1 1 2 2 0
Archives of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Federal Security Service 3 3 3 3 5 2 2
Other   4 2 4 5 4 4 4
Don’t know 4 1 3 2 3 4 6

 

Would you like to know more about the fate of your relatives or the closed ones who were purged? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of those who had relatives who were purged but they are poorly aware of their fate)
  % of those whose relatives were victims of the purges but they are poorly aware of their fate Aged 18-24 Aged 25-34 Aged 35-44 Aged 45-59 Aged 60 and over
I’d rather yes 58 71 70 47 68 43
I’d  rather not 39 29 30 48 30 51
Don’t know 3 0 0 5 2 6

Note: Using materials from the site www.wciom.ru or wciom.com, as well as distributed by VCIOM, the reference to the source (or hyperlink for the electronic media) is obligatory!

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